oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of June 26th 2011

We lead this week with the release of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime 'World Drug Report', revealing a rise in consumption of synthetic and prescription drugs. In other news we reflect on the likely withdrawal of Bolivia from the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and travel with Al Jazeera to the front line of Mexico's war on drugs ~ MW & CS
Mark Weiss Charles Shaw
26 June 2011

World Drug Report: Drug markets stable but consumption of synthetic and prescription drugs rises 

New York/Vienna. 23 June 2011. While global markets for cocaine, heroin and cannabis declined or remained stable, the production and abuse of prescription opioid drugs and new synthetic drugs rose, according to the World Drug Report 2011 ( www.unodc.org/wdr). Illicit cultivation of opium poppy and coca bush remained limited to a few countries. Although there was a sharp decline in opium production and a modest reduction in coca cultivation, overall, the manufacture of heroin and cocaine was still significant. 

The flagship report was launched today at United Nations Headquarters by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly; and Viktor Ivanov, Director of Russia's Federal Service for Drug Control. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: UNODC 

Launch of "World Drug Report 2011" of the UNODC 

The launch of "World Drug Report 2011" of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on the global production, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs took place in the presence of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General 

Source: UNMultimedia 

World Drug Day 2011: Global health starts with drug-free communities 

24 June 2011 - Every year, an estimated 210 million people use illicit drugs; of that number, almost 200,000 die as a consequence. Yet, despite the challenges posed by drugs, the impact can be mitigated. This year's International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (26 June) highlights the role that communities can play in addressing the drug challenge. "Prevention starts with a community that cares about the vulnerable and it involves families, teachers, youth leaders and mentors, among others. We must start to think globally and act locally to curb drug abuse and drug trafficking", said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. 

In addressing drug abuse prevention, treatment and care, UNODC, together with leading civil society organizations, promotes approaches that empower and support community-based strategies and by doing so put people at the centre of the response. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: UNODC 

Bolivia to withdraw from drugs convention over coca classification 

Bolivia is set to withdraw from an international narcotics convention in protest at its classification of coca leaves as an illegal drug. President Evo Morales, who is also the leader of one of the country's main coca producers' unions, has asked Congress to pass a law that would take Bolivia out of the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs

The government says that the convention contravenes the Bolivian constitution, which states that the country is obliged to preserve and protect the chewing of coca leaves as a cultural heritage and ancestral practice. Bolivia has long argued that coca in its natural state is not an illicit drug. The plant is legally grown in the country for medicinal and traditional purposes. An international attempt to remove its chewing from the UN list failed in January, so the government now wants to withdraw from the convention altogether. 

Under the draft law, which has already passed the lower chamber of Congress and is likely to pass in the Senate, where Morales's party has a two-thirds majority, Bolivia would keep its international obligations in the fight against drug trafficking. Foreign minister David Choquehuanca said the country could rejoin the convention next year, but with a reservation: that it be allowed to consume coca legally. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Misleading Centre for Policy Studies report ‘grossly exaggerates’ cost of methadone prescribing

Report published by right-of-centre think tank is inaccurate and misleading, ‘grossly exaggerating’ the cost of methadone prescribing and ‘seriously understating’ the achievements of drug treatment. DrugScope, the national membership organisation for the drug sector, is today responding to the publication of the Centre Policy Studies (CPS) report, Breaking the habit, which garnered significant media attention on Sunday 19 June. 

Having now had the opportunity to see the report on which the embargoed CPS press release was based, DrugScope is extremely concerned at the misrepresentation of the facts about drug treatment and its costs, as well as the content and language of some of the media reporting which followed. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: DrugScope 

BBC attacked over coverage of 'misleading' methadone report 

The BBC has been drawn into an increasingly bitter row surrounding the merits and costs of treating heroin addicts. The charity DrugScope has written to the corporation complaining about its coverage of a report by a rightwing thinktank, the Centre for Policy Studies, that warned the prescription of the heroin substitute methadone was "entrenching addiction". 

The report, Breaking the Habit, said prescribing addicts with methadone had been an expensive failure and claimed there were 320,000 problem drug users on benefits, costing the taxpayer billions of pounds.

The row has highlighted the increasingly polarised nature of the debate on treatment for heroin addicts. Last year the prime minister, David Cameron, described methadone as "a government-authorised form of opium". To learn more please follow this link 

Source: BBC News

Krokodil: The drug that eats junkies 

Oleg glances furtively around him and, confident that nobody is watching, slips inside the entrance to a decaying Soviet-era block of flats, where Sasha is waiting for him. Ensconced in the dingy kitchen of one of the apartments, they empty the contents of a blue carrier bag that Oleg has brought with him – painkillers, iodine, lighter fluid, industrial cleaning oil, and an array of vials, syringes, and cooking implements. 

Half an hour later, after much boiling, distilling, mixing and shaking, what remains is a caramel-coloured gunge held in the end of a syringe, and the acrid smell of burnt iodine in the air. Sasha fixes a dirty needle to the syringe and looks for a vein in his bruised forearm. After some time, he finds a suitable place, and hands the syringe to Oleg, telling him to inject the fluid. He closes his eyes, and takes the hit. 

Russia has more heroin users than any other country in the world – up to two million, according to unofficial estimates. For most, their lot is a life of crime, stints in prison, probable contraction of HIV and hepatitis C, and an early death. As efforts to stem the flow of Afghan heroin into Russia bring some limited success, and the street price of the drug goes up, for those addicts who can't afford their next hit, an even more terrifying spectre has raised its head. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Independent 

Cocaine addiction linked to brain abnormalities 

Scientists have found "significant abnormalities" in the brains of people addicted to cocaine, which could help explain some of the compulsive behaviour associated with using the drug. It may also hint at why some people are more prone to addiction.

Brain scans revealed that cocaine users had a "dramatic decrease in grey matter" in their frontal lobes, according to researchers, which affected key functions including decision-making, memory and attention, while some of their brain's rewards systems were significantly bigger. Karen Ersche of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cambridge, who led the latest work, found the longer a person had been using cocaine, the poorer their attention was, and the more compulsively they used the drug. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Guardian 

Ciudad Juarez is all our futures. This is the inevitable war of capitalism gone mad 

War, as I came to report it, was something fought between people with causes, however crazy or honourable: like between the American and British occupiers of Iraq and the insurgents who opposed them. Then I stumbled across Mexico's drug war – which has claimed nearly 40,000 lives, mostly civilians – and all the rules changed. This is warfare for the 21st century, and another creature altogether. 

Mexico's war is inextricable from everyday life. In Ciudad Juarez, the most murderous city in the world, street markets and malls remain open; Sarah Brightman sang a concert there recently. When I was back there last month, people had reappeared at night to eat dinner and socialise, out of devil-may-care recklessness and exhaustion with years of self-imposed curfew. Before, there had been an eerie quiet at night, now there is an even eerier semblance of normality – punctuated by gunfire. 

On the surface, the combatants have the veneer of a cause: control of smuggling routes into the US. But even if this were the full explanation, the cause of drugs places Mexico's war firmly in our new postideological, postmoral, postpolitical world. The only causes are profits from the chemicals that get America and Europe high. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian 

Glastonbury festival refuses 'golden opportunity' drugs test on sewage 

Glastonbury festival has vetoed the first major attempt to test the use of legal highs and illicit drugs at a British festival by sampling sewage. The exercise to be carried by analytical toxicologists had the backing of the police and involved the use of the emerging science of "wastewater analysis", which can detect even very low concentrations of illicit drugs in liquids. 

Dr John Ramsey of St George's medical school, University of London, who has spent months planning the project, said he was disappointed by the decision. "It would have been a golden opportunity to test the technology and find out the actual levels of the use of 'legal highs' and new psychoactive compounds," he said. 

He said that Glastonbury, with its ethos that "British law applies, but the rules of society are a little bit different, a little bit freer" provided the ideal demographic. Festival's founder Michael Eavis said in a statement: "The drug culture these days has changed beyond belief. What a cheek to even suggest there's a problem." To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Guardian

Members of Congress to Introduce Historic Legislation Ending Marijuana Prohibition 

"This legislation allows states to set their own marijuana policies without federal interference, focuses federal law enforcement on violent criminals and organized crime instead of marijuana offenders, and saves taxpayer money. Marijuana prohibition is breeding violence, over-incarceration, corruption and taxpayer waste, much like alcohol Prohibition did. The 'Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act' ends marijuana prohibition in the same way alcohol Prohibition was ended so states can control, regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. 

"More than half of all drug arrests are for marijuana, and most of those arrests are for nothing more than possessing marijuana for personal use. More than 850,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana in 2009 alone (the latest year data is available) – and 88% of those arrests were for mere possession. Even though African-Americans are no more likely to use or sell marijuana than whites, they’re far more likely to be searched, arrested and incarcerated, and thus more likely to be discriminated against in employment, housing and public benefits because of their conviction. 

"Moreover prohibition is destabilizing our neighbors. For instance, tens of thousands of Mexicans have died recently in prohibition-related violence, and tens of thousands more have died in Central America and other source countries.  The negative consequences of drug prohibition are enormous and Rep. Frank’s and Rep. Paul’s bi-partisan bill is the first bill in Congress to end the war on marijuana and significantly reduce the violence, taxpayer waste and racial disparities associated with the war on drugs." To learn more please follow this link

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

United States Conference of Mayors Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling the War on Drugs a Failed Policy That is Driving Over-incarceration and Racial Disparities 

On 40th Anniversary of Drug War, Nation's Mayors Endorse Senator Jim Webb's Federal Legislation to Review and Reform Entire U.S. Criminal Justice System. Resolution Comes on the Heels of Report from Global Drug Policy Commission Calling for Major Drug Policy Reform. 

"The war on drugs – declared 40 years ago this weekend – has been the principal driver of mass incarceration in America," said U.S. mayors in a resolution adopted on Monday at the United States Conference of Mayor's annual meeting in Baltimore. The mayors pointed out that the U.S. has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 2.4 million of its residents in prison or jail, including roughly 500,000 Americans behind bars for drug law violations – an increase of 1200 percent since 1980. 

In their resolution, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) officially endorsed pending bi-partisan federal legislation, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2011, sponsored by Virginia Senator Jim Webb and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.  The Act would "take the long-overdue step of creating a national, bi-partisan, blue-ribbon commission charged with undertaking a comprehensive, 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the criminal justice system and proposing concrete, wide-ranging reforms," according to the resolution. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

We Need a New Drug Policy

The War on Drugs has been a colossal and massively expensive failure. So what do we do next to fight illegal drugs? Here's an idea -- try something radically different!  

40 years ago this month, President Richard Nixon declared his "War on Drugs." Now, 40 years later, can we honestly say we've got a handle on the problem? No, of course we can't. The drug scourge continues with its ever increasing criminality and murderous violence. It heaps economic hardships on families, communities and prison systems. Our decades' long drug war gives off the stinking scent of failure and the undeniable conclusion that the way we've tackled the problem so far just isn't working.

So how long do we keep doing the same old things before we change course? Isn't it time for a radical shift in strategy to try to lessen the impact illegal drug trade has had on all of us? To learn more please follow this link

Source: Huffington Post

Bolivia to Quit United Nations Drug Convention Over Coca

Bolivia is preparing to withdraw from the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to protest its classification of coca leaves as an illegal drug. A law that would do just that has already passed the lower chamber of Congress and is likely to pass in the Senate, where the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party of President Evo Morales has a two-thirds majority.

The Congress is acting at the request of Morales, a coca union leader. His government sought late last year to amend the convention to reclassify coca leaf, but that effort failed in January, so now Bolivia will withdraw from the convention altogether.

Coca leaf has been used for thousands of years in the Andes, and Bolivia has long argued that coca in its natural state is not an illegal drug, just a plant with traditional, therapeutic, and industrial uses. The Bolivian constitution obligates the government to preserve and protect the chewing of coca leaves as a cultural heritage and ancestral practice. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Drug War Chronicle 

Historic Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition Introduced 

Led by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) a bipartisan group of US representatives Thursday introduced the first bill ever to legalize marijuana at the federal level. The bill would leave it to the states to decide whether to legalize it at the state level. If the bill were to become law, marijuana would then be treated like alcohol, where states decide whether to ban it and/or what restrictions to place on it. 

Other cosponsors of the bill include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The legislation would limit the federal government's role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or interstate smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal.

The bill does not reschedule marijuana, which is currently Schedule I, the most serious classification under the Controlled Substances Act; it removes it from the act altogether. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Drug War Chronicle

CHA kills controversial plan to drug test residents 

A controversial proposal to require all adults who currently live in, or apply for Chicago public housing to be tested for drugs — including senior citizens — is dead, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. 

Also, the agency decided to keep the so-called “innocent tenant defense” for residents, referring to evictions initiated when a drug-related or violent crime has been committed by a relative or guest of the leaseholding tenant — without the tenant’s knowledge or involvement. 

The drug testing policy and the elimination of the innocent tenant defense were among changes to the Chicago Housing Authority’s lease and its Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) proposed by its recently resigned CEO, Lewis Jordan. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Chicago Sun

Rallies, Vigils Mark 40 Years of Failed Drug War  

It was 40 years ago Friday that President Richard Nixon (R) declared illegal drugs "public enemy No. 1" and ushered in the modern war on drugs. Four decades, millions of drug arrests, and a trillion dollars later, the sale and consumption of illicit drugs is as firmly ensconced in American society as ever, and a growing number of Americans are ready to end drug prohibition and embark on a more sane and sensible, not to mention less harmful, approach toward drugs. 

In dozens of cities across the land, activists, drug war victims, and just plain folks gathered Friday to commemorate the day of infamy and call for an end to that failed policy. Their numbers were not overwhelming, but their voices are being heard, and the more hopeful among us can begin to see the faint outlines of a nascent mass movement for reform.

Messages varied from city to city -- in California, demonstrators focused on prison spending during the budget crisis; in New Orleans, the emphasis was on racial injustice and harsh sentencing -- but the central overarching theme of the day, "No More Drug War!" was heard from sea to shining sea and all the way to Hawaii. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Drug War Chronicle 

Drug death 'capital' Brighton to put treatment ahead of punishment

Over the past 20 years or so, Brighton has gained an enviable reputation for being cool. Its thriving centre plays host to a young population and the town is one of the most gay-friendly in Europe. But Brighton also has a drugs problem: there was an average of almost one drug-related death every week – 50 in total – in 2009, and last year around 35 deaths were attributed to drugs. Brighton is the drug death capital of the UK, with the highest mortality rate from drugs per capita. 

The situation is not expected to improve soon. "There was a bad crop in Afghanistan last year, which meant the heroin being taken recently was of very bad quality. A lot of the time it will have been dust", said Mike Pattinson, the director of operations for CRI, a charity rehabilitating drug users in the city. "But we hear this year's crop is a bumper one, which means the quality will be much higher and people will overdose. They won't cope with the strength of what they are taking." 

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, has called for a new approach, having identified an unlikely ally. She wants to exploit the localism agenda of communities secretary Eric Pickles, the no-nonsense cabinet bruiser from Bradford, to decriminalise drug use in the city. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Guardian 

Fatal cocktail of common drugs putting elderly at risk

Hundreds of thousands of older people are being put at increased risk of death or developing dementia by taking combinations of common medicines to treat routine illnesses, according to a new study. 

Well-known brands of hay fever tablets, painkillers and sleeping pills pose a previously unknown threat to people’s health when taken together, British scientists claim. Many are available over the counter at pharmacies as well as being prescribed by GPs, nurses and chemists. 

Today the scientists behind the study call for doctors to recognise how dangerous these drug combinations can be and to prescribe harmless alternatives instead. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Telegraph

Britain has highest number of drug deaths in western Europe 

Drugs were the primary cause of death in 2,278 cases in the UK in 2008, the highest number for any country in west or central Europe, found the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Drug deaths in Britain accounted for one in 10 across Europe, the figures indicated.

Most of these deaths were caused by opioids, followed by sedatives, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and ecstasy. Britain has the sixth-highest number of drug-related deaths globally, according to the UNODC annual report, after the United States, the Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Iran and Mexico. 

Other countries across the globe are likely to have significantly higher actual numbers of drug related deaths than in Britain, but in countries like Afghanistan the vast majority go unreported. Britain, by contrast, has one of the most stringent processes to ascertain cause of death in the world. Nonetheless, Britain is a major market for suppliers of illicit drugs due to the size and wealth of its population. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Telegraph

Barney Frank and Ron Paul team up to legalize marijuana 

Ron Paul and Barney Frank have teamed up again (after their successful joint HuffPo editorial of 2010) to introduce legislation legalizing marijuana. Not decriminalizing it, but actually totally legalizing it. Wouldn't that be wild?

It is being billed as "bipartisan legislation" but obviously Ron Paul is the only Republican co-sponsor. According to the Marijuana Policy Project: "The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition." 

On this, the (disputed) 40th anniversary of the War on Drugs, basically every thinking person agrees that marijuana prohibition is an expensive failure. But this will probably not even get a floor debate in the House of Representatives. Or maybe I'm wrong! We'll see! 

Source: Salon

Breaking the Taboo: A Global Drug War Film 

"If you can't control drugs in a maximum security prison, then how can you control drugs in a free society?" Those are my words that close Breaking the Taboo, a poignant new film about the global drug war. 

On May 31st I was invited to attend its world premier in Sao Paulo by its filmmaker Fernando Grostein Andrade. I met Fernando when he was in New York City filming and he asked if he could interview me about my experience a serving a 15-to-life sentence for a first time nonviolent drug law violation. I agreed, and was thrilled to take part in it. 

Breaking the Taboo is a stark and honest portrayal of the global war on drugs and its failure to resolve the many issues that derive from prohibition. The main character of the film is the former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Other former world leaders and dignitaries appear beside him, like former US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Huffington Post

Mexico Drug War Violence Used As Pretext For Indigenous Community Repression   

Mexico's grisly drug violence may dominate global headlines, but for many locals, a lesser-known, lower intensity war is also being waged. 

In the second installment of al Jazeera's "Fault Lines" current affairs show, reporter Josh Rushing travels to the state of Guerrero to investigate claims that Mexican security forces are using the area's "narco-economy" as a pretext to repress indigenous and campesino communities. 

As Rushing finds, there are countless mysterious cases of alleged "extra judicial" killings and other abuses by Mexican military and police forces which continue to go unchecked. Check out Rushing's full report from Guerrero state on "Fault Lines" below (WARNING: contains graphic imagery)  

Source: Huffington Post

Drug War Creates Distrust between Cops and Communities 

The 40-year-old "war on drugs" and the criminalization of addiction have placed communities at odds with law enforcement, prosecutors and courts -- to the detriment of justice and respect for the rule of law. The violence driven by the astronomical profits of the illicit drug market and the life-long collateral consequences for those snared by drug laws will continue to exile generations from the mainstream. It might be surprising to hear this from a cop like me, but the solution to our current human rights crisis will ultimately require the legalization and regulation of current illicit drugs.

I retired from a rewarding career with the Maryland State Police in 2007, and since then have had the honor of working as a lawyer and educator in Baltimore, largely in communities composed of people of color. One of the most heartbreaking things to witness - as both a law enforcement officer and a legal educator -- is a "contempt of cop" culture held by many people living in poor and blighted communities. As a police officer I understood that some people dislike the police. As a lawyer I have witnessed a generational feedback loop within communities of color that perpetuates fear, distrust and hatred for the police officers charged with protecting their communities and maintaining order. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Huffington Post

Harry Shapiro: What you see in drugs may not be what you get 

The emergence of so-called "legal highs" means another layer has been added to the existing market in psychoactive substances. While the Government might control various legal highs through legislation, in terms of public health and safety advice, these drugs are not more "reliable" or safe than more familiar drugs like cocaine or ecstasy. 

Users might buy the same packet containing a substance that looks the same as one they bought previously from a website or headshop, but the drugs might be different – with different potency or effects. There is no more "quality control" in the legal highs market than if you were buying heroin or cocaine. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: The Independent

Overdose antidote to be trialed in Canberra 

Drug policy researchers say they are hoping to begin a new training initiative in Canberra to reverse drug overdoses. 

Naloxone is a prescription-only drug that reverses overdoses of opiates like heroin and methadone. It can only be administered by medical professionals and paramedics, but there are growing calls for the drug to be made more widely available to the friends and families of drug addicts. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: ABC News

Drug production slumps as blight hits poppy crops 

WORLD opium production decreased sharply last year due to a blight in Afghanistan but is expected to rebound. Coca growing and cocaine production also fell, the United Nations has reported. 

The United States remained the biggest market for cocaine in the world, but European cocaine demand was rapidly catching up, the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime said in its annual report yesterday. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Scotsman 

The UK Drug Policy Commission Response to the Sentencing Council Drug Offences Guideline consultation June 2011 

Broadly, we welcome the Sentencing Council’s attempts through the draft guidelines to bring better coherence and consistency to the decision-making process of the courts system. We appreciate how it has sought to address the issue of ‘drug mules’ and to ensure that those with addiction problems receive a sentence that reflects their special problems, while at the same time, ensuring that those that produce, traffic or supply controlled drugs receive appropriate sentences. 

The earlier Sentencing Advisory Panel (SAP) consultation document and subsequent guidance to the Sentencing Guidelines Council on drug offences1 also sought to provide advice on this matter. The SAP approach was particularly welcome in that it sought to relate its analysis to the evidence base, especially about the impact of various sentences. In particular, in: 

  • contrasting the seriousness of drug offences with other types of offence, and
  • examining the evidence about the deterrent effect of custodial sentences.

We were somewhat surprised therefore to see little reference in the current consultation document to the evidence base and how the draft guidelines take account of it. Rather, we see a reliance on ‘both case law and current sentencing practice’ without any clear underpinning rationale other than seeking to ‘uphold the current level of sentencing for those offenders playing a leading role in importation, supply and production offences’. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UKDPC

Message from Wolfgang Götz, EMCDDA Director: Drug use in Europe still a major threat to public health 

Drug use in Europe still represents a major threat to public health and is responsible for between 7 000 and 8 000 fatal overdoses every year in the EU. Europe’s drugs problem is also changing, with more problems now associated with the use of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine, and new substances increasingly appearing on the European market. 

Preventing drug use and offering effective treatment to those with substance use problems are central pillars of Europe’s response to drugs. A key achievement since the 1990s has been the scaling up of care for drug users. Today, at least 1 million people in the EU receive some form of treatment for drug problems per year. And between 50 and 100 million clean needles and syringes are exchanged or distributed to drug injectors in the EU annually. Such measures have been linked to both a reduction in new drug-related HIV infections and an overall decline in levels of injecting drug use. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: EMCDDA 

Drug policy profiles — Portugal 

The EMCDDA Drug policy profiles aim to describe some of the main characteristics of national drug policies in Europe and beyond. The profiles do not attempt to assess these policies, but instead outline their development and main features. The objective is to help readers — from researchers to policymakers — gain a better understanding of the way in which countries control drugs and respond to drug-related security, social and health problems. 

This first profile describes the national drug policy of Portugal, a policy that has attracted significant attention recently in the media and in policy debates. It considers national strategies and action plans, the legal context within which they operate and the public funds spent, or committed, to resource them. It also describes the political bodies and mechanisms set up to coordinate the response to the multi-faceted problem and the systems of evaluation that may help to improve future policy. Download

Source: EMCDDA 

Risk assessment report of a new psychoactive substance: 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone)

This publication presents the summary findings and the conclusions of the risk assessment on mephedrone, carried out by the EMCDDA’s extended Scientific Committee, with participation of additional experts from the European Commission, Europol and the EMA. 

The risk assessment report, which was submitted to the European Commission and the Council of the European Union 26 May 2010, examines the health and social risks of the drug, as well as information on international trafficking and the involvement of organised crime. Furthermore, the report considers the potential implications for placing the drug under control in the EU. On the basis of this report — and on the initiative of the European Commission — on 2 December 2010, the Council decided that mephedrone is to be subject to control measures.  Download 

Source: EMCDDA

IDHDP releases statement to support the report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy 

This statement by the International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies (IDHDP) was published in support of the Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. IDHDP's mission to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies. IDHDP-statement.pdf

Source: IDPC

UN High Level Meeting Political Declaration calls for intensified efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS 

More than 3000 people came together at the United Nations in New York for the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS in June to take stock of the progress and challenges of the last 30 years and shape the future AIDS response. The High-Level Meeting on AIDS took place 10 years after the historic 2001 United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS, and the 2006 signing of the Political Declaration where UN Member States committed to moving towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. 

Countries agreed to advance efforts towards reducing sexual transmission of HIV and halving HIV infection among people who inject drugs by 2015. They also agreed to push towards eliminating new HIV infections among children in the next five years. Leaders pledged to increase the number of people on life saving treatment to 15 million and to reduce tuberculosis related deaths in people living with HIV by half in the same time period. To learn more please follow this link 

The Political Declaration is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese.

Source: IDPC 

U.S government may be spending billions of dollars on private security firms for anti-drug operations which are allegedly involved in sex trafficking in Bosnia

A U.S government report has brought into question the accountability of anti-drug measures and private contractors as well as whether they have had any significant effect on drug production. Money spent by the U.S government on counter-narcotic contracting has rise from $428 million in 2005 to $635 million in 2009. DynCorp, whom receives the most funds from the U.S government, has come under scrutiny for various alleged abuses of power from employees. Kathryn Bolkovac filed a lawsuit against DynCorp after reporting gross misconduct by police trainers in Bosnia whom were allegedly hiring prostitutes and engaging in sex trafficking.

Although none were charged due to being immune from prosecution in Bosnia, several employees were fired because of suspected involvement. In the same year another DynCorp employee drew attention to the company’s employees actions in Kosovo which included,”... that employees and supervisors from DynCorp were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behaviour [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, forged passports and [participating in] other immoral acts." The ex-employee also revealed that DynCorp would routinely overcharge the governments that hired them for unnecessary repairs and hours worked that were not required.  

Source: Drug Science




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